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Operational data management

Services provided by the UK Polar Data Centre (UK PDC) include operational data management with staff supporting core scientific activities on BAS ships and stations. The specialisms and expertise of our data managers reflect the multidisciplinary nature of polar science and its data diversity – from bathymetry of the ocean floor to monitoring of terrestrial and marine biology to atmospheric data.

Data managers take part in scientific cruises on-board the RRS Sir David Attenborough, supporting scientists in data acquisition and gathering quality metadata to help ensure the long-term archiving and accessibility of data. Cruise datasets cover a range of instrumentation and data types, such as bathymetric mapping of the seafloor using on-board echosounders, Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) profiling and sampling of the water column, deployment of underwater submersibles for image and video analysis of marine benthos, and collection of physical samples – from sediment cores to specimens recovered from nets and trawls. Data are transferred back to Cambridge HQ for permanent storage, along with the physical specimens and samples, at the end of the field season.

At Halley research station, personnel includes a data manager to ensure support for the instrumentation and systems that capture and monitor atmospheric and meteorological data. Data are secured on station then transferred back to Cambridge HQ – the frequency of which depends on operational needs – nightly, hourly, or even in near real-time. Once transferred, UK PDC staff perform post-processing work, producing secondary data products, such as quicklook plots, quality assured data, summaries. Automated processes harvest discovery metadata from the incoming data streams, enabling data cataloguing, after which data are made available to BAS scientists, collaborators, the wider scientific community, and general public.